tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN June 4, 2016 11:00am-11:31am PDT
no fighter fought that way. he jabbed and wouldn't hold back. >> ali lost a title. came back ten years later and won the title. that's unheard of. >> he was a poet. >> float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. >> he was a prophet. >> he made me feel i could walk on water. >> and a role model. >> the more we take part in wars, we take lives of other humans. >> i remember every conversation. he's always taught me make sure you exercise your soul and your spirit. that's what my father fought for. >> a fighter till the end. tonight, boxing legend muhammad ali. >> the opening ceremony of the 1996 olympics in atlanta, georgia. >> look who gets it next. >> a surprise guest expected on stage.
>> actually they kept that a big secret from everyone. the children didn't even know. >> muhammad ali's daughter, maryum. i was told your dad is going to light the torch, call all your siblings. it was a beautiful moment. >> the crowd roared when they see the champ on stage. >> oh, my. >> and the world held its breath as ali, diagnosed with parkinson's disease struggled to control the torch. >> he burned himself trying to light it. nobody knew it. that's ali. i don't want anybody to know i can't light that torch. that was ali. >> when ali lit the olympic flame, it was an indelible moment in sports history. >> he needed that. he needed to see that people still cared for him even with parkinson's disease. >> i've always wondered what it would be like -- he's your
father but also this world renowned figure. >> he always fought for freedom and love. he wanted this country to be accountable for treating all human beings equal. he was really more than just a boxer. ♪ >> he was really just the kid next door born cassius clay junior in 1942 in heavily segregated louisville, kentucky. he grew up here. to mom odessa and dad. he grew up here. >> i don't think he even played softball and basketball with us. >> robert coleman lived down the street. >> we saw camps through the ymca. i remember ali punched me in the chest one day. i said we can't play no more.
>> at 12 years old he discovered the power of his punch through an odd twist of fate. when his bike was stolen, he told a police officer he wanted to beat up a thief. that cop, joe martin, was also a trainer and encouraged him to try that aggression out in the ring. he was a natural. years later martin and ali were reunited on tv's this is your life. >> he taught me the jabs, taught me the hooks. both of them together made me what i am today. >> cassius was hooked and dead serious about learning the ropes, trained at two gyms, hitting the streaks before school. >> you could tell he was going to be different. we would ride the bus to madison junior high, and he would be running behind it. we'd laugh at him, tell him he's crazy. >> crazy, fast and driven. by 14 he had six kentucky golden glove titles and two national titles under his belt. by 18 he was an olympic champ,
winning the gold medal in 1968 rome. his long-time business manager gene gilroy. >> i met him in the olympics, he wore his gold medal around. >> where do you think the confidence comes from? >> he just believed in himself. >> cassius clay of chicago challenges gary joyce. >> that confidence combined with his size, fast speed and stinging jabs, he was a dancer in the ring. clay turned pro in the '60s winning most matches by knockout. >> why all the crowd and cameraman? cassius has just hit town. >> as his star power grew, so did his voice. >> he ain't nothing but a chump. >> clay became as famous for his rants. >> this will be no contest. this will be a total annihilation. >> and rhymes. >> he's going around claiming to be the real heavyweight champ. but after i'm finished he'll
just be a tramp. >> as he did for his boxing. >> float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. >> any fight that involved him was a circus. >> boxing announcer bob sheridan. >> athletes at that time were not brash and unspoken. they wanted those people in the seats to go and see him. he was a promoter's dream. >> i'm the prettiest fighter in the ring today. >> there's a fine line between confidence and braggadocio. i had no idea which side of the line he was on. >> sports writer eisenberg covered his fight against sunny lifton. >> lands a left jab on the nose. clay backing away. >> ali was in the ring, but with his hands down and was moving around like this --
>> he was the only fighter i ever knew who could punch moving backwards. he wasn't a big banker no matter what. his knockouts came after he hit you and hit you and hit you, and finally you fell down. >> another left by clay. >> the big bear sonny lifton couldn't withstand clay's jabs. he was a beaten man by the sixth round. he didn't answer the bell in the seventh. >> the new heavyweight champion of the world is cassius clay. >> one of the biggest upsets in boxing history and cassius clay at 22 years old became the youngest boxer to beat a heavyweight champ for a title. >> i'm the greatest thing that ever lived. next ali's biggest fight came outside of the ring. >> under no conditions do we take part in wars that take the lives of other humans.
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about why it was important for him to change his name? >> it was important to him because he did believe he had a slave name. he wanted a new identity. >> you know my new name. why are you calling me that? >> will your next fight be billed as cassius clay or muhammad ali? >> muhammad ali. >> the fact that he made this conversion from cassius clay to muhammad ali helped make him a figure in the arab world, in africa. it may not have been paying any attention whatsoever to american boxing champions. he basically was the sporting reflection of what would become the black power movement. >> if i'm going to die, i'm going to die a man fighting you. you're my enemy. >> ali, famous worldwide, was a radical voice at home. he criticized u.s. involvement in the vietnam war and refused to serve in the army as a muslim and a conscientious objector. >> tell me, champ, would you
have been prepared to go into the army if it hadn't been for the vietnam war? >> under no conditions do we take part in wars that take the lives of other humans. >> in an instant, ali for many turned from sports hero to villain. >> when he made that decision, a number of people in this country turned against him. >> a number of people didn't like him to begin with because he was what they call a braggart. then when the army came up, it alienated a whole other section of the country. >> heavyweight champion cassius clay, at a federal court in houston, is found guilty of violating the u.s. selective service laws. >> ali faced five years in prison, and in 1967 was stripped of his heavyweight title. banned from the sport at the prime boxing age of just 25. >> i loaned him $20 one day in front of the americana. >> so he was broke? >> he didn't have any money, and he didn't have any income. >> but his gift for gab helped him earn money lecturing at universities.
ali easily held his own. >> you won't even stand up for me in america for my religious beliefs and you want me to go somewhere and fight. but you won't even stand up for me here at home. >> in a war in which young black men, mainly without any money and with little education, were dying in disproportionate numbers, this young black man, outspoken, stands up and says, no. >> exiled from boxing for more than three years, ali even gave acting a shot, taking a part in the broadway musical "buck white." >> here's the world famous world heavyweight champion. >> he performed on the ed sullivan show. ♪ we came in chains ♪ we came in misery >> his music career, not surprisingly, fizzled. in 1967, he got hitched to belinda boyd. they had four children. >> he wanted all his kids to be with him in the summertime.
so he got himself a pool. there's laila here, the twins, muhammad. >> ali doted on all his children, seen here in a home video from the film "i am ali." >> you want to go with me? can you fight? >> he called them from the road with fatherly advice. >> i remember every conversation, which is amazing. >> many of those conversations were recorded. >> everybody's born for a purpose. what do you think you were born for? >> to make people feel better. to fix people up.
>> that's good. that's good, miriam. >> i remember when i'd tell my dad he's too old to fight. >> to go look another another place like deer lake. it might be possible if i like, i might fight again. >> no. don't fight again, please. >> but just for a man to ask me, an 11-year-old and get my take on it, it was amazing. he would ask about boys. he would ask about school. >> while married to boyd, ali had daughter mia with another woman. >> i remember growing up, and he used to play boxing in the street. it would start with one person and there would be hundreds of people surrounding him. he never lost me, thank god. he just really was the glue that held it all together with his nine children. you know, my dad, if he makes mistakes, nine children and, you know, four wives, a couple of mistresses, what i love the most is that he doesn't pretend to be perfect. never has. that's why he's always taught me make sure you exercise your soul and your spirit. >> ali's spirit, his convictions about the war, never wavered. he stood his ground and eventually the nation came around. in 1971, the supreme court overturned his conviction. he returned to the ring and got
a chance to win back his title. billed as the fight of the century, it pitted ali against current champ, smokin' joe frazier. >> they were the two best fighters in the world. >> bing, pop, bing, pop, and frazier is plotting. he's got that left hook. you can make a comic strip about his left hook. it had a life of its own. when it wanted to go, it went. when it went, you went down. >> the slugfest went the full 15 rounds. ali was losing but tried hard to psych out frazier. >> god says i'm the champion. when that happens, he slips a jab, steps inside, throws that left hook right on there. ali goes down. >> it was ali's first ever professional loss. but he and smokin' joe were far from finished.
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>> i'm going to retire the heavyweight champion of the world. that's right. if you think the world was surprised when nixon resigned, wait till i kick foreman's behind. >> big george foreman was boxing's most feared fighter. destroying joe frazier in two rounds. >> i'm sitting on the throne. i thought i was doing a charitable contribution to muhammad ali by allowing him to fight for my title. >> the match was called rumble in the jungle. >> i was being offered 5 million to fight muhammad ali. i went to africa to get my money and beat up someone and go home. >> they want to be like me, i'm getting ready to go whip george foreman. >> but the locals fell hard for ali, and ali, seen here when "when we were kings," loved every minute of it. >> ali! >> he loved people, and i think that's why they loved him so much. >> 18-year-old veronica porsche was hired as a poster girl to promote the fight. >> we were told at the very last
moment that we could go. >> when did you start getting butterflies? >> it was when -- we used to walk by the zaire river in the evening, and that was probably during those times. >> they would marry eventually. but first the fight that captured the world. >> george foreman is head hunting himself. ali tries to hang on. >> i hit him with all kinds of punches, and one thing about a power puncher is every time you throw one big right hand, a left hook wide and wild, it's like ten miles of road work that's going away from you, and you'll never get it back. >> ali's got his gloves up here. so the round goes by. boom, boom. he's hitting gloves. boom, boom. he's going to wear him out. he's going to make him wear himself out. >> somewhere around the sixth round, i hit him and he folded, and i thought i got him now. he just fell over and whispered, is that all you got, george? that's when i realized this was
going to be a long night. >> round eight, ali leaned back on the ropes, purposely absorbing punch after punch until he was ready to attack. >> i never saw a fighter fall in sections. like his ankles hit the ground, his knees hit the ground. his chest hit the ground. and then he hit the ground. >> ali has won! >> against all odds, ali made one of the greatest comebacks in history. >> i told you, all of my critics. i told you all that i was the greatest of all time. >> ali lost the title and then came back ten years later and won the title. won the title, won the title. that's unheard of. >> i was a good fighter, very good fighter. but muhammad ali was better than me. >> a year later, ali got his revenge against smokin' joe frazier in their final brutal
fight called thrilla in manila. >> frazier is standing there with his legs the consistency of wet spaghetti. all ali has to do is walk three feet, push him. ali could not walk those three feet. neither one was ever the same again. they took everything they had out of each other. >> it's all over. >> frazier's trainer stopped the fight after the 14th round. ali won with a tko, ending one of the biggest boxing rivalries of all time. friends and family begged ali to hang up his gloves and go out on top. >> ali came up the aisle, and he said, this is the closest you fellas will ever see to death. i pleaded with him to retire, retire after this fight. retire, retire. >> abc sports announcer howard cosell, who covered ali for most
of his career, even tried to talk the champ down. >> he told me 3 1/2 weeks ago, one more fight. one big fight, a lot of money, and that was it. now there are more fights in the offing. why? >> well, because i've changed my mind, and i feel that i can go another few years. the fans want to see if. >> and that in effect is our show today. ali still the heavyweight champion of the world. knock it off! >> they loved each other, man. they really did. they were like brothers. they really were. >> over the next six years, there were ten more fights, two more marriages, and three more children. including daughter laila, who followed in her father's footsteps. >> just being muhammad ali's daughter, people are always going to want to test you. i've always been the one to take it on, and not want to back down. >> then muhammad ali would take on his toughest opponent.
>> we saw the slurred speech, a little slowness. >> how did you find out that your father had parkinson's? >> the diagnosis came years after he actually had it. that was a time when even the top researchers did not know that young people can get parkinson's. >> he was 38 years old. in 1982, after three decades of redefining boxing with a lifetime record of 56 wins and only five defeats, ali retired for good. >> the disease had a very slow progression for him and it hasn't stopped him from doing anything he wants to do. >> like that moment in 1996 that brought the world to its feet. >> once the most dynamic figure in sports -- >> that was a very positive highlight for him, and it was massive. i mean millions of people saw that. >> millions of fans all over the world continued to worship the champ.
>> when you say the greatest of all time is in the room, everyone knows who you mean. >> and in 2005, the one-time objector of conscience received the country's highest civilian award, the presidential medal of freedom. cnn's last visit with ali was at his home. the champ moving slower. his voice, barely a whisper. >> this was the gymnasium of my comeback. >> his spirits unshaken until the end. >> i still look at the guy and see the greatest. >> muhammad ali had no fear. >> he always fought for freedom and love. that was his mission in life is to help people. >> we were privileged to lay on hands on him a little bit. >> muhammad was bigger than boxing. >> but to say a great boxer, give that to some boxer. the guy was one of the greatest human beings i've ever met in my life. >> i am the greatest!
welcome to oakland, california. we are smack in the middle of the bay area and oracle arena. home to the golden state warriors. and this weekend home to a nba finals that one way or another will make history. either capping the greatest season in basketball history for the warriors or delivering a sports title to the city of cleveland for the first time in more than 50 years. in the next half hour, you'll get a behind the scenes look at the nba finals right here from the floor featuring two super stars who really transcend basketball. this is all access of the nba finals. a cnn bleacher report special. the cleveland cavaliers and golden state warriors meet again in the nba